THE NORTH EAST CORNER
By Bro. C. H. Pirie
Published in The Tracing Board, GRS, 1979
No doubt many newly made Masons including newly raised Master Masons, will, during their period of initiation into the workings of a Lodge and the peculiarities of the stations at which various parts of the degrees are unfolded, wonder why the candidates are so placed.
One of the first of these is the placing of a candidate during the first degree in the NE angle or corner of the lodge by the rough ashlar.
Simply stated, the symbolical significance or character of this position, is that the Entered Apprentice is said to take his first step in his new life as a Mason at this juncture, in an analogy to the custom of ‘at the erection of all stately and superb edifices to lay down the foundation stone at the NE angle or corner of the building’.
In this position, the E.A. is made to represent figuratively speaking, the first stone in the building of his own Masonic life.
The North, in symbolical masonry, is said to represent the place of darkness, the symbol of the ‘un-regenerated world,’ while the East is the place of light and perfection. Therefore, the Candidate in his standing at this juncture in the NE angle, is at the foundation stone of his new life and is seen as progressing from the ignorance of darkness and ready to enter into the light.
He has at the beginning of the Ceremony of his Initiation, been informed that to receive Light (increased knowledge) is the predominant wish for his future life.
The North “masonically speaking” is called ‘a place of darkness’, as has already been mentioned.
The Sun, however, in its progress through the Ecliptic, never reaches further than 23 degrees and 28 minutes North of the Equator.
Figuratively speaking, a wall erected on any part of the earth farther North than that will, at Meridian, receive sun’s rays only on the South side of the wall, while the North would be in shadow.
The North, as the symbol of darkness, reaches back to the days of the sun worshippers of which many references are to be found in literature concerning Gnosticism and Hermetic philosophy.
In a like manner, the East was considered as a place of the sun’s daily birth and therefore highly revered. Masonry, therefore, uses the NE angle to represent the initiates ‘first step in seeking knowledge of that light, that fountainhead of all knowledge, from which all goodness emanates.
Thus we see the North East is the first of the stations in which the candidate ill be placed in his progression from the darkness of ignorance to that of the Light in the East. Similarly, the rough ashlar, representing the stone as it comes from the quarry in its rude form, is made to represent man in his natural state – ignorant and uncultivated.
But when education has exerted its wholesome influence in expanding his intellect, restraining his passions and purifying his life, he is then represented by the perfect ashlar.
Here we see the result of the stone under the skillful hands of the Master Mason, the roughness has been made smooth and it has been squared on all sides to form a perfect cube and fitted for its place in the finished building.
While true Perfection will never be attained in or by our endeavours, still it must be our aim – to nearly as possible reach perfection of character, keeping The Great Geometrician of the Universe at the centre of all we do and are, for this and this only, is the point at which a Master cannot err.
In virtually everything we do there is a reason why we do it THAT WAY!!!
This paper presents an excellent picture of a piece of ceremony through which every Freemason must pass in the beginning of his Spiritual Journey.
Have a wonderful Day & God Bless